Depending on which model you buy, the PS4 comes with either 500GB or 1TB of built-in storage. That might seem like a lot at first, but once you factor in the operating system, game installs, and downloadable content, it fills up quickly - and that’s not even considering save files, screenshots, and videos.

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The good news is, there are plenty of ways to manage and expand the storage on your PlayStation 4, whichever model you have, so there’s no reason to ever miss out on a game because you don’t have the hard drive space for it. Here’s how to manage your PS4 hard drive and expand your storage.

Delete files and games

Before you go spending money on hardware upgrades, it’s worth trying to figure out if you can clear enough space on your existing hard drive for your needs. First up, head to head to Settings > System Storage Management to see exactly how your hard drive space is being used up: games and other applications, screenshots and videos (‘Capture Gallery’), save files, or themes.

Games are likely to take up the bulk of the space (those 70GB installs add up pretty quickly!) but that also means they’re the quickest, easiest way to save yourself some space. If you have any games you know you’re not likely to play again soon, you might be better off deleting them from the console to save the space for new titles - you can always install them again, either from the disc or from the PlayStation Store if it was a digital title.

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To see which games are using up the most space and potentially delete some, head into the Applications section of System Storage Management. From there you’ll see a list of every game and application installed on the system, along with how much space it’s taking up.

To delete something, press the Options button on your controller. You’ll then see a checkbox next to every entry on the list, and you can select the games you want to uninstall, and then hit Delete.

It’s worth noting that deleting a game won’t affect its save files, so you’ll still be able to pick up where you left off whenever you reinstall the game.

Oh, and we’d recommend first deleting the games you have on disc - it’ll be quicker and easier to reinstall them, and you won’t have to wait for the whole game to download again (though there may be some patches to download).

Delete screenshots, videos and themes

If you’ve cleared out some old games but still need to make more space, you might want to try deleting some screenshots, videos, or themes too.

The process is pretty similar. Head to Settings > System Storage Management, as above, but head into either Capture Gallery or Themes, depending on what you want to clear out.

Screenshots and videos are categorised by game, and you can either delete individual screenshots or videos, or delete all the files linked to a given game at once. There’s also a ‘Copy to USB Storage Device’ option in case you want to save a copy of your files elsewhere before deleting them from the console.

Themes are unlikely to take up too much space, but they can add up if you have a few. Just head into Themes, and pick the ones you don’t want any more - you’ll always be able to redownload them later on.

Delete (and backup) save data

They’re not likely to make the biggest difference to your storage space, but some save files can be bigger than you might think, so it’s sometimes worth deleting a few to make extra room - and luckily Sony will let you back them up first.

Some games are pretty badly optimised, so their save files take up a bit more space than is really ideal. To identify the worst offenders, go to Settings > Application Saved Data Management > Saved Data in System Storage > Delete.

You’ll see how much space each app or game is taking up, so look for any games that you won’t play again soon and are taking up plenty of space. Select Delete, and you can pick specific save files for each game to get rid of. Before you delete them though, it’s worth creating a backup just in case you ever want to play them again.

For that, go to Settings > Application Saved Data Management > Saved Data in System Storage > Copy to USB Storage Device. This will give you the chance to back up all your saves to a USB stick or external hard drive in case you ever want to use them again.

If you’re a PlayStation Plus subscriber, there’s even better news. Sony will automatically back your saves up in the cloud, so you can delete and re-download them at will. It’s worth double-checking the backups are working before you clear anything though - go to Settings > Application Saved Data Management > Saved Data in System Storage > Upload to Online Storage and confirm everything’s been uploaded before you start clearing it out.

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Connect an external hard drive

If you don’t want to delete any of your files or games, or have cleared some but still just don’t have enough space, then the next step is to expand your storage. There are two basic methods: connecting an external USB hard drive, or upgrading the internal one.

PS4 owners waited years before Sony added support for game installs on external USB hard drives, but system update 4.5 finally added the functionality in March 2017. If you don't have a drive to hand, we're big fans of the WD My Passport drives, which are available up to 4TB, but you can also check out our guide to the best portable and external hard drives.

First up, there are a few things to bear in mind. The PS4 supports USB 3.0 hard drives up to 8TB, but they have to be formatted specifically for the console. That means that you probably don’t want to use a drive that you’re also using to store other files on - it’s best to have a whole drive (or at least a partition of it) specifically for PS4 games.

To set it up, simply plug your hard drive into one of the USB ports on your console. If it’s the first time you’ve used the drive on the PS4, a message will pop up telling you that it isn’t supported because it hasn’t been formatted correctly. Don’t worry, we’ll do that next!

Head to Settings > Devices > USB Storage Devices. Once there, select your drive and you should see an option to ‘Format as Extended Storage’. Press that, and give the console a minute or two to format the drive - then it’ll be ready to use.

From now, as long as you have the external drive connected, the PS4 will default to installing new games and downloads onto that drive, though save files, screenshots, and videos will still default to the internal drive.

If you want to move any of your current games over to the external drive, you want to go back to Settings > Storage > System Storage. Go into Applications and press the Options button, then select ‘Move to Extended Storage’. Then simply select the games you want to move, then tap ‘Move’.

The transfer process might take a while though, so don’t start it up right before you’re hoping to play something.

Replace the internal hard drive

If you don’t want the mess of an external drive cluttering up your console, or just happen to already have a spare internal drive lying around, you might prefer to swap out the drive inside your PS4 instead.

The obvious thing would be to upgrade your existing 500GB or 1TB drive to something with a higher storage capacity, though bear in mind that the PS4 only supports internal drives up to 2TB, and they also have to be in 2.5in laptop form factor, not the larger 3.5in desktop drives. The Seagate BarraCuda is a good choice for a 2TB drive, or you might consider paying a little more for the solid state hybrid FireCuda.

If you don't mind paying more, you might also choose to swap the drive for an SSD, which could boost performance by improving loading times across both the operating system and your games - though storage costs go up very quickly. We recommend the Samsung 850 Evo, but you can also take a look at our guide to the best SSDs here.

If you want to replace your PS4 hard drive, take a look at our full guide to installing an SSD in the PS4 - though the exact same steps will apply for any type of replacement drive. 

That guide is written for the original model PS4, but the steps are almost identical for the PS4 Slim and Pro. The only difference is where you’ll find the hard drive caddy: on the PS4 Slim, it’s underneath a small plastic cover at the rear left corner of the console; on the PS4 Pro it’s under a plastic panel on the bottom of the console, next to the ethernet port.

Once you’ve replaced the drive, you can enjoy your new expanded storage - at least until you manage to fill it up with giant game installs all over again.